On 11 June 1970, Colonel Anna Mae Hays, Chief of the Army Nursing Corps, pinned on the stars of a brigadier general, becoming the first woman ever to attain flag rank. Moments later, Colonel Elizabeth P. Hoisington, Director of the Women's Army Corps, joined her. The bill authorizing their promotions had meandered through the bureaucratic maze of Congress and the Department of Defense for more than two years before being signed into law. Their promotions cracked the ceiling that had limited women since the 1901 inception of the Army Nursing Corps. Now, just 38 years later, that ceiling will shatter for good when Lieutenant General Ann E. Dunwoody pins on four stars as the Chief of Army Materiel Command.
The Army that General Dunwoody entered in 1975 was diametrically different from today's, and her career has mirrored the opportunities that have unfolded for women since their full integration into the service. At the time of her commissioning, only five women held the rank of brigadier general in the Army. It would be several more years before the service would give a woman a second star.